The history of Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe dates back to a garage in 1986. On Summertime Drive, on the banks of the Sandy River, the first Alder Creek store was born.
The founders, Steve and Cindy Scherrer and Keith Jensen, were avid whitewater paddlers but found there was limited access to paddling gear in the greater Portland area. They opened dealerships with Pyranha kayaks and Patagonia accessories and named their business Alder Creek Kayak Supply.
After a year they moved into a retail space in downtown Sandy, OR and added other brands including Perception Kayaks, Clipper Canoes and Lightning Paddles. With their continued growth in sales and classes, they were challenged with finding the right space to accommodate the growing business. They changed retail storefronts three times in Sandy before making the big decision to move to Portland.
In 1992, the plans fell into place for the big move to our current North Portland location at Jantzen Beach. Access to a variety of close paddling and teaching destinations was vital to support the demand of the growing flatwater and sea kayaking market. Key employees were added at this time including the current owners, Dave Slover and Suzi Elle, and the ever popular and enjoyable Andrew Wulfers.
The 90s were the glory years as people flocked to paddling. Whitewater continued to be important but sea kayaking and recreational kayaking saw significant increases in participation. Many brands rose in stature including Werner Paddles, Kokatat, Dagger, NRS, Wavesport, Wilderness Systems, and Necky.
In 2000 a second store was opened in Bend, OR run by Geoff Frank, the current owner. It services the growing Central Oregon community of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts. It has a spectacular location in the Old Mill shopping district along the upper Deschutes River.
Alder Creek continued to prosper in the early 2000s in spite of a slowdown in the tourism industry. During this period many specialty paddle sports stores decided to close. Due to superior products and a dedicated staff, Alder Creek benefited from strong sales while trips and classes continued to fill with paddlers eager to learn. In 2004, in order to commit more time to other interests, Steve, Cindy and Keith decided to sell Alder Creek to their long time friends and former employees, Dave Slover, Suzi Elle, and Jim Miller (another former employee).
During this time a third store was opened at the Portland Boathouse along the Willamette River in Downtown Portland. This location serviced the east side promenade and with the proximity of Ross Island, the popular Ross Island tour was added to the excursion offerings. In 2005 an e-commerce site was added bringing our great selection of products to those who live to shop online.
In 2007, Jim Miller left the company to spend more time with his family. In 2008, the Bend store was sold to Geoff Frank and has since been re-named “Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe”. The two businesses will continue to work closely in order to give the best customer service possible.
The Portland store continues to focus on having the latest and greatest products while having the most outstanding staff in the country. Our commitment to teaching has introduced us to and produced some of the finest students, coaches, and guides in the industry. Our programs continue to grow and embrace the teachings of the BCU and the ACA while striving to protect the environment and promote conservation awareness.